Apprentice 6: Alex Walked because he Didn't Walk the Talk

The task was to design a new household cleaner and take it from design, through to the creation of a marketing and advertising strategy. Advertising as anyone who has worked in it, or even watched Madmen is much harder than it looks. Alex who is billed as "Unemployed Head of Communications", was the team leader on one side and Christopher the ex. Marine was team leader for the other. It’s difficult to think of two more poorly conceived products or campaigns and Lord Sugar Judgement in deciding who won, made the judgement of Solomon look like a phone vote for the X factor.

The fact is that both designed products and campaigns which failed to hit the mark. The Christopher led team at least managed to identify that people like pastel colours for cleaning products, or at least those not designed to clean train undercarriages. In Christopher-land sex sells, which of course it does kind of, but whether sexism does to 50% of the population and the majority of houselhold consumers is another matter.

Their decision to film a cheesy advert for Octo-Clean because "8 hands are greater than two", in a Christopher dreamland of trophy wife and heart lazy husband may have been designed to hit the irony button. However, Christopher’s casting couch leer when selecting the actress for the assignment of looking beautiful and slightly pained made Roger Sterling look like a member of the Equalities Commission.

So Alex, the self appointed marketing guru’s campaign must have been bad to lose and it was. The choice of bottle colour going against all supermarket shelf evidence and the repeated comments of a focus group was the first mistake. Black and red for a a cleaning product called Germinator which could just as easily have been plant food. The campaign was based around Stuart's clever slogan of "Hasta la vista gravy!" Few great campaigns are built around a joke although Trevor Beattie would say FCUK to that! Audience is important. I have a cousin who is a Unilever research scientist and I remember him telling me not to call something cleaner as it was a detergent! So whole labs of white coated wonders would have been aghast that this alleged grease cutter being sold as a germ killer as was Sugar.

Self delusion from Alex about his creative and management skills, Chris about his skills as an ad producer were all in evidence. Laura to be fair did question the use of a child actor but to no avail. Alex may be affable but he was also arrogant and shrill and got a bit too fond of his own self advertised quirkiness. In teams not being aware of your own strengths (or alleged strengths), can become a weakness. In the end Alex despite his transparent attempt to bring Sandeesh in was the weakest link, and was justly fired.

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